I am currently working for a doctors office doing front end office work. Yesterday I was told I was being laid off due to the company downsizing. I made sure to ask if it was due to performance issues or work ethic, and I had two different supervisors assure me it wasn't. Today I found out from several others within the company that not only is the company not 'downsizing' but that my position is actually being given to someone else -- the manager's son's girlfriend. Do I have a case against them for unlawful termination?
2 Answers from Attorneys
On the facts presented in your question alone, it does not sound like you would have a claim for wrongful termination. Although it's not very nice, it is not unlawful for an employer to fire an employee for the purpose of hiring a family member in the employee's place.
Generally, wrongful termination takes place when an employer fires an employee for an illegal reason, such as the employee's race, gender, religion, sexual orientation, age (over 40), disability, pregnancy, etc., or in retaliation for an employee's engaging in certain protected activities, such as making a complaint of sexual harassment or reporting illegal actions of the employer to the government ("whistle-blower"). There are other situations which could constitute wrongful termination that are too many to enumerate here in an online answer.
If you feel that your employer has terminated your employment for an illegal reason, then you should contact an experienced California employment lawyer right away. An employment lawyer might also be able to determine whether you have any other possible claims against the employer, such as unpaid overtime or failure to provide meal breaks/rest breaks.
Good luck to you!
Not only are there no laws in CA against poor management or 'unfair treatment', but in general, unless an employee is civil service, in a union, or has a written employment contract, they are an 'at will' employee that can be disciplined or terminated any time for any reason, with or without ‘cause’, explanation or notice. That is, UNLESS the conduct is actually based upon discrimination, harassment or retaliation as defined as ‘illegal’ under the ADA [disability], Civil Rights [age, race, sex, ethnic, religion, pregnancy, etc], FMLA [medical leave], Whistle-blower, or similar statutes. Any employee's goal should be to keep their supervisors happy and make them look good to the company, and make the company money. That’s how the company pays employee wages. If you don't, then don't be surprised to be replaced. Now if the conduct was illegal under the above definitions, feel free to contact me for the legal help you’ll need.